Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Another thing a pastor does...

Today started with Mass at 8 am, mostly in Latin, as we do on the first Wednesday of the month. Attendance is good, and people are praying the Latin prayers better and better.

Then I picked up breakfast on the way to the office, here by 9 am.

A fair amount of paperwork (I have a vast supply in reserve); some phone calls and emails. But the major project today was to write a grant.

As you may know, since 2006, I've been working on a variety of projects for Saint Boniface Parish. When I arrived in 2005, the maintenance crew and many other parishioners made me aware of many urgent projects. I launched a "Rebuild Saint Boniface Fund" drive in 2006, with a goal of $580,000. It seemed so far out of reach, and yet, with prayer, a lot of events and hard work by many people, plus some big hitters, we've just about reached it. We still need to raise some funds for windows in the school; the rest of the projects are all funded.

Although the name of the project might lead you to think it's all for the church, in fact almost a third goes to the school: new windows, roof repairs, resurfacing parking/play area, and painting the gym. A chunk goes to the parish office (former rectory): interior and exterior repairs, plus improving electrical service so our computers don't trip our circuit breakers. The bulk of it goes to the church: the exterior stone-facing (a kind of stucco) needs significant attention, trim paint, the front vestibule roofs had major leaks we had to repair, thus the vestibule needed plaster and paint, the stained-glass windows needed restoration before they began to fall down in chunks, the pews need major attention (if we can save them; we may not be able to), and the like.

But there remained one element I didn't include--because it wasn't a critical need: repainting and beautifying the interior of the church. In addition, even though I anticipated a need for new flooring, should we replace the pews as may prove likely (fear not, they will have classic design; and when folks ask, "will they have kneelers," I say, "this is me!"), I didn't include the cost, because again, not a critical need as everything else was.

So, today, I was meeting with my director of maintenance to review costs, and prepare the proposal for a $75,000 grant to provide for new flooring, and most important, new painting. And not just a fresh coat of paint, but a real improvement in the interior decoration.

Some of you wonder--will the new flooring be carpet--or something harder?

Well, that depends on several factors. We priced carpet and tile. Carpet came in at around $6 a square yard, tile at $10; other options such as wood or stone, much higher. There are other options we are exploring, such as stained and polished concrete, that may give us most of the benefit of tile at a carpet price.

I'd very much like a hard surface if possible. The benefits would be beauty, far better acoustics for music--the carpet does such a good job at absorbing sound, people don't hear others singing, so they don't sing, unless church is very full--and permanence: we would not have to replace it for a very long time. The downsides are: added cost, higher maintenance cost, and greater risk of slipping in wet and icy weather. We can compensate for the latter to some degree; so if I can bring down the initial cost, the longer life-span may compensate for the increased maintenance cost.

Also, I have a dream that someday, somehow, we will get a real pipe organ back in Saint Boniface Church. A new one would be over $300,000; but if we made the right match with another church, we might be able to obtain one for the cost of moving it--still many thousands, but well worth that to have such beautiful music back. If we ever had a pipe organ, carpeting would be a very effective way to negate its power and beauty.

As I see it, re-adorning the interior of Saint Boniface is the crowning task for the church, so that other projects can be pursued. (Meanwhile, other projects are being pursued, for the benefit of the school--but it's too soon to talk about those.) I am blessed, as a pastor, that my predecessor--who also happens to be my parochial vicar--saw to a variety of needs at Saint Mary, and the people of Saint Mary helped me with several items, such that the school, church and rectory are all now in top shape. So as these projects come to fruition for Saint Boniface, we will have two beautiful and well-maintained churches in Piqua.

Anyway, I spent several hours on this grant application; my maintenance man is getting some visual aids put together, so God willing, we will submit it by week's end.

Please pray!

(And if you want to help--especially if you have a pipe organ--write me at


Anonymous said...

Father, you do at great job as pastor and i see the things you have done to help our parish and that is one reason i am proud to be a parishioner of the Piqua parishes.

Thanks for all you do!!!

God Bless,

Father Martin Fox said...

Thanks, Zach! That means a lot.

Anonymous said...

Gulp, I have something to ask that isn't on this topic. I don't know if it's against blog etiquette to ask something off topic or not. I'll apologise profusely in advance if it is rude - absolutly no rudeness or disrespect is intended at all!

I'm just eager to know the Catholic view of this practice. It sounded exciting and positive to me. Maybe it's a good idea, or maybe I just don't know enough about it???

While having dinner with some non-Catholic friends, they were carrying on enthusiastically about a program recently started in their church called "small groups".

I gather it's not an intrinsically Protestant phenom, but I don't think it's in our parish,either, so what is the Catholic church's position on small groups?

From what our friends told us, the purpose is to come to know the people in your small group in a deeper way as human beings, over and above the "hi, how are ya" weekly greeting.

Hope I'm not in the doghouse for bringing up a differnt topic. Let me know if there is a correct way to do this, please. I definitely don't mean to be offensive! Annie

Anonymous said...

I think it's high time you give a complete accounting of the "Rebuild St. Boniface Fund Drive". There was a lot of money collected and a lot spent. But there has never been a full accounting given to the parishioners. List on one side all the money that came in under this endeavor - cash, pledges, fund raisers, etc. And then on the other side show all the money that was expended from this fund, by project, type, building, repair, etc. This needs to be done in a detailed fashion that can be understood by the ordinary parishioner. To date this has not been done. It's time that it happens.

Father Martin Fox said...

(most recent) Anonymous:

I am happy to give more information, but you are being very unfair when you say I haven't given reports to parishioners about the progress of the "Rebuild Saint Boniface Fund Drive":

1. I meet monthly with the finance committee and all parish income and expenses are reported and reviewed, including the Rebuild St. Boniface Fund Drive.

2. The chairwoman of the finance committee in turn gives a report to the pastoral council every month.

3. The money for each project is not spent until Pastoral Council specifically approves it. Each time.

4. I have written about each project, repeatedly, in the bulletin. Don't you read my column? If you missed them, please go to the Saint Boniface web site (see the list of sights on the right of my web page) and you can read old bulletins going back at least a year, I think.

5. Every parishioner got a mailing some time back describing the projects and giving a proposed budget. Parishioners were told the projects that were proposed, and we've taken care of them, one at a time.

6. The progress of fundraising has been given to parishioners constantly, both in the bulletin and on the sign in the vestibule.

We have a total budget of $580,000, of which $480,000 has been raised--as you can see on the board placed in the vestibule of the Church. At the last Pastoral Council meeting, I gave an update--if memory serves, we've spent about $130,000 thus far. That's since 2006.

7. To review, briefly:
a) we repainted the school gym
b) we installed a new sound system in church
c) we purchased the house on Wood St., demolished it and leveled the lot.
d) we repaired the leak over the front vestibule and repaired the front facade of church.
e) we repaired the sills under the stained-glass windows
f) we resurfaced the lots behind church and school.
g) now, we have begun the restoration of the stained-glass.

I think, if you walk around the church and the school, you will see for yourself all this work has been accomplished. Again, as each one has taken place, I've written about it several times in the bulletin.

8. I point out to you that every year, the parish gets a financial report that details total income and expenses.

9. I agree, it would be good to give an update. It takes time to do it, more than you might think. Each project has a lot of invoices, and over three year's time, we've had a lot of fundraisers, and all the money doesn't come in all at once, and it comes in a variety of ways.

I really don't understand your accusatory tone, nor why you choose to address this here. You are always welcome to call me about any questions.

Or, if you prefer, contact members of Pastoral Council or the Finance Committee. The names of the president of Pastoral Council, and the chairwoman of the Finance Council, along with their telephone numbers, are published on the front of each bulletin.

Father Martin Fox said...


It's not offensive.

But I would reflect the question back to you. Why wouldn't the Catholic Church be positive about the small groups you describe?

Anonymous said...

Father, thank you for your reply to my question. (I'm surprised you had the energy after the attack from the other "anonymous". Whew!
Where do these angry outbursts come from, anyway?)

I don't know whether the Catholic church is or isn't in favor of small groups. It might be. I just don't personally know of a Catholic parish having this ministry.

Of course, just because I don't know about something doesn't mean it doesn't exist, har, har!

Wishing you a serene and holy Eastertide,


Sharon said...

If there is a concern about parishioners slipping on the concrete floor in wet weather you might also have to factor in possible litigation if this happens.

Father Martin Fox said...


That is a concern. However, there are ways to deal with that. A hard floor can be given a texture, for example; the vestibules would still be carpeted; and temporary mats could be put down in winter months (that would help keep the floor cleaner too).

After all, lots of public buildings have hard floors; neither the city building, the library or the post office has carpeted foyers, do they?